Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Food Waste in America

I recently went on a Mid-Atlantic road trip.  As a result, I ate three morning meals (what I described back in February as Fastbreak), one at a conference, two at hotels.  I was appalled by how much food waste I witnessed.  Folks, we have to stop wasting our food!                                                                                                               
Read On:
It truly amazes me how much food we waste in the morning, especially when breakfast is served buffet style.  I would like to share one key statistic about food waste in America:

Approximately 40 percent of all food, worth an estimated $165 billion is wasted. 
(Source:  National Defense Council – 2012)

There are a multitude of reasons food waste is a major issue we need to address:

1.    Lost resources, annually 25% of all freshwater and 300 million barrels of oil that is utilized to produce food wasted.

2.     Food waste is a major component of landfills responsible for 135 million tons of greenhouse gases (methane) annually.

The one statistic that troubles me the most that we tend to overlook is that approximately 14.5 percent (17.6 million) of U.S. Households experience food insecurity – households that are uncertain or have difficulty acquiring enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they have insufficient money or other resources for food.  One solution: Let’s start the conversation about food waste among family, friends, work peers, etc.  For example, on my trip I observed a teenager eating breakfast with his mother.  She was busy reading her newspaper; he was busy on his iPhone.  When they left, I estimated that more than 50% of what he ordered was left on his plate.  New Yorker writer Adam Kopnik once said it best: “Parents teach, institutions instruct.”  Let’s start the conversation at home.

Folks, stop wasting your food!


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  2. Here, here! When I first learned networking etiquette as a young recruiter and someone told me it was considered taboo to ask for a to-go container after a business meal, I was so turned off to the "dog and pony" show.

    I recently sang at a country club happy hour where they offer members a huge buffet. The rain had arrived late in the afternoon that day and many golfers did not stay at the club for happy hour. It was pretty empty. At 7 PM they started taking away full trays of gourmet food. I didn't confirm that the food was going to the trash, but I asked my neighbor in the catering business what happens to that food and she said that because members would be up in arms to be served leftovers and many of the non-profit food collections do not have the logistical resources to collect the food, it gets wasted. I have also heard that there are liability issues with donating leftovers. It is really quite a pity. Starting a non-profit food collection logistics organization is now on my list of contributions that I want to make. It's about #15, though, so if someone can get that done sooner than me, I'll support it!